Jeff Stewart

This past week Kodiak High School announced the time and date for an upcoming town hall meeting titled “Community Voice.” The purpose of this meeting is to sound out our community’s views on what additional subjects could be taught in the seventh- to 12th-grade curriculum and any recommendations as to how existing courses can be improved. Also, there are to be opportunities for the public to actively participate in implementing such changes. As planned, the meeting is to be hosted by the high school and is open to the public; and anyone with an interest in what subjects our secondary schools could teach and how is encouraged to attend.

As background, genesis for such a meeting started last year at a school board meeting when a member of our community made a presentation recommending the inclusion of a couple of new courses to the existing high school curriculum. The ideas themselves seemed viable; however, the school administration had no basis (e.g., costs, community support, whether the school could even teach such subjects) to either support or not support such proposed curriculum changes. In the end the board asked the school administration to look into these suggestions and report back. All of which was pretty awkward at the time and suggested a need for a streamlined process for citizen-suggested curriculum improvements. Voilá, the upcoming Community Voice town hall meeting.

Now when significant curriculum changes are proposed to the school board, the school administration will have had an opportunity to first look at them and support/not support/support but with changes the proposed curriculum changes before the board. In turn, the school board will then have enough information to recommend going forward (or not) towards incorporating such changes into the school’s curriculum.

Personally, I like this approach. Our schools are a community asset and require community support to function effectively. Without such support, public schools decay and parents who can afford to will seek alternative educational opportunities via home schooling, sending their children off-island, or sending their children to local parochial schools who will listen to parents’ concerns. So, let’s assure that Kodiak’s public secondary schools are responsive to collective community concerns. And an open, transparent meeting such as the upcoming Community Voice town hall is one way of providing this.

Insofar as new course suggestions, I expect most would be conventional and, I hope, some unconventional. For example, right now in California there are over 140 colleges that offer beauty school certificate programs, so why not our high school? First semester would be a general course covering the basics (hair, skin, nails, makeup, wardrobe, accessories, etc.) and would align with augmented certificate requirements for a typical beauty school. (So “Frenchy” can now graduate both from beauty school and high school!) Second semester would then focus more on photography and the professional aspects of this career path.

Along more conventional lines, I can see upgrades to the high school’s pre-nursing program wherein one to two dozen students at a time could graduate from high school and sit for their nursing boards within a year following graduation, and this education would be at no direct cost to the student. For on passing one’s boards, a new nurse can now earn over $100,000 per year; start a lifelong, personally rewarding career and make a significant contribution to the lives of others. Potentially the high school will now be able to offer such a career path if the necessary program upgrades can be augmented.

Overall, one would hope that this upcoming town hall meeting will be fun, light and productive. My understanding is that it will happen at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 5, at the high school. My further assumption is that shortly there will be official notice coming out in our local newspaper and aired on local radio advertising this event.

All of which, of course, is just my opinion.

Jeff Stewart is a retired project manager and former member of the KIBSD Board of Education.

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